I prefer boutiques to large department stores. I prefer boutique hotels to large chains. But as I’m on a boutique budget, a ‘complimentary’ weekend away at a five-star golf and spa resort in Hungary was not to be sneezed at! Buried in the little town of Bükfürdő close to the Austrian border, Birdland is something else! And I’m sure that for many of its regular guests, that something else is very special indeed.
Walking into the lobby to be greeted by a Country and Western duo belting out Achy Breakey Heart wasn’t quite what I expected. I’m a country gal at heart and Billy Rae is a sweetie, but this was bordering on the surreal. The duo on the reception desk, however, were singing a completely different tune. The rattattoo of Deutsch? Magyar? Angol? was delivered in rapid fire. Once it was established that we were Birdland virgins and ‘foreign’ foreign as opposed to ‘across the border’ foreign, something changed. I could have sworn that the patience quotient dropped a couple of notches. He was quite pleasant and toddled off to get us our welcome flutes of champagne. She was perhaps a tad under pressure, although there was no-one else in line. Not exactly encouraging.
The rooms were big; the towels were soft; the robes were fluffy. But no slippers???? How did they get the fifth star without slippers? The room came equipped with a hefty folder showcasing the wellness offers and the rules of the hotel (anything you bring in from outside that is sold on site will be confiscated – I’ve been known to smuggle in a pint of gin in garter belt, but never have I had to stoop so low as to smuggle in a bottle of water!)
It’d been a busy few weeks. I’d completely spaced the ‘spa’ element of this weekend and had forgotten to get defuzzed. Showing my pins in public wasn’t really on the cards – particularly around all these fair-haired Austrians. And with the fresh snow outside, they’d be forgiven for thinking Yeti had made an appearance. So I tried to book a wax job at the spa. The two on the desk (everything in Birdland comes in pairs) went through the now familiar rattattoo – he was pleasant and she was obviously under pressure although again, there was no-one in line behind me. This time, patience levels were evidently sub-zero. The most they could possible do was a bikini wax – forget the whole leg – or even a half-leg. Didn’t I realise they were full? I could get a free consultation with a ‘plastical’ surgeon though…
Inside the spa, rows of sunloungers bore a liquorice allsorts of bodies. People wandered the corridors in towelling robes. Others sat at the bar, smoking and drinking, enveloped in fluffiness. My fellow diners were a mixed lot – those who’d dressed for dinner in heels and hematite mixing with tattoo’ed cowboys and tracksuited Traceys. The food, admittedly, was good – and there was plenty of it. And I understand the efficiency of a a buffet, but honestly, it did seem to jar a little with the whole ‘spa-ness’ thing given that when I think spa, I think healthy. And how can it be healthy to fill up your plate again, and again, and again?
When we headed out on Saturday morning to explore the hinterland, we left behind us a full car park. When we got back later that afternoon, our spot was still free. No-one had moved apparently. Obviously, when one goes to Birdland, one goes to Birdland – one takes up residency. I’ll know better next time… but wait, there won’t be a next time :0)